Saving the planet or salving your conscience?

As part of our series about climate change, Peter Foy challenges us all to make a real difference

By Peter Foy

Planet Earth is in a mess. The oceans are awash with plastic. The Amazonian forests, the “world's lungs”, are burning.

It's time to make a change, and you very probably feel as if you’re already doing your bit.

    According to the World Economic Forum CO2 levels are still rising.  

You recycle your plastics and glass, right? You are exploring options for electric or hybrid cars. Maybe your kids are striking one day a week to save the planet.

But, really, do any of these life choices make one iota of difference?

Let me share some facts with you…

According to the World Economic Forum CO2 levels are still rising. Before the Industrial Revolution the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere stood at 280 parts per million (ppm). Six years ago they burst through the 400ppm level. As of 3 June 2019 the level was 414.4ppm.

The countries responsible for these levels of CO2 are well documented. The top 15 "villains" account for more than 70 per cent of the overall total.

In the past 60 years, since plastic really became part of our everyday life, we have generated 6.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste. 5.7 billion tonnes of this have never been recycled, accounting for 90.5 per cent of historical waste.

Pause for thought.

  1. 5,700,000,000,000 tonnes of plastic are just floating around in the oceans or landfill
  2. If that plastic was collected and placed in boxes 0.3x0.3x0.3m and stacked, the tower would go to the moon and back more than 5,000 times 
  3. Should a wily entrepreneur collect that spare plastic and recycle it she would have an asset worth $7.3 trillion 

Allow me one last fact. 

90 per cent of the plastic in the oceans is sourced from just 10 rivers. Of those, eight are in Asia and two are in Africa. None of them is in a western developed democracy.

To reiterate my opening gambit, Planet Earth is in a mess. And it's a big mess.

But will that mess really be sorted by you taking your plastic, glass and cardboard to the supermarket recycling point while your kids or grandchildren are still using disposable nappies?

The simple fact is that while most of the individual actions we take are laudable they are also irrelevant. At best sticking plasters and at worst, responses to marketing hype.

Take food packaging as a case in point. We are now being encouraged to buy fruit and veg that is loose to reduce plastic use. But that plastic isn't just there for convenience: it prolongs the life of the food.

Take the plastic away from a cucumber and it wrinkles and becomes waste. Food waste has a far greater carbon footprint than the packaging we have got rid of. 

“The carbon footprint of food is so much bigger than the carbon footprint of the package,” says Nina Goodrich, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Any increase in food waste will quickly wipe out the gains of cutting out packaging, but as Ms Goodrich observes: “The consumer might not be aware of that because the package waste is more visible.”

      The simple fact is that while most of the individual actions we take are laudable they are also irrelevant.  

What is more, food might be merchandised without packaging but it didn't arrive at the shop like that. It would be impossible, with our current logistics infrastructure, to move product without packaging.

Take any aspect of your life and think about the impact it has on the environment. 

That stash of "bags for life" that grows every time you make an ad hoc visit to the supermarket and forget to take a bag. 

Look at your environmentally friendly car. How much plastic? Where was it manufactured? Where were the components manufactured? Where did the raw materials come from?

Going on holiday this year? A family flying from London to Greece will produce a carbon footprint that is far greater than they will ever save by using paper bags and recycling their waste.

Those are just facts.

Now don't get me wrong. I am an ardent recycler, because I don't want to make things worse. But I try not to fool myself that I am making things better.

If we want to make things better then we need to make macroeconomic and societal changes on an international level. 

Those changes will mean either denying the developing world access to the lifestyle we enjoy or finding an arrangement where everyone accepts a new normal in which we tread more lightly on this fragile planet.

Whatever we settle on, the world’s citizens need to do a lot more than install a selection of coloured bins in their kitchens.

If we’re not prepared to “get serious about climate change” as one of my young colleagues recently urged, then we should prepare for the destruction of our planet.

That will almost certainly solve the climate crisis by wiping out the world’s population.

Because, after all, we are the problem, aren’t we?

Published: 29 August 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: “We just need to get serious about climate change: a teenager’s perspective on global warming”

You may also enjoy: In praise of plastic

Jobs currently available

New job
QA Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Saffron Walden
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910873
About the role

Our client is seeking an experienced Quality Assurance Manager to join them on a permanent, full-time basis. This opportunity offers stability, longevity and professional development.

Reporting directly to the MD, the Quality Assurance Manager will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining and improving the Company's Quality Management System and ensure internal compliance
  • Working with all departments to ensure their procedures are being followed and to improve their internal and cross-functional processes and procedures
  • Ensure that the quality of current and newly introduced products is compliant and traceable
  • Coordinate Quality activities with all over departments
  • Develop and improve quality relationships with all customers of the Company
  • Responsible for all Quality activities and personnel in the Quality Department for the Company
  • Provide strong leadership in the day-to-day operations of the Quality department and mentor the members of the team
  • Establish performance goals for all departmental employees and monitor performance on a continual basis
  • Oversee all hiring, appraisal, training and discipline of Quality personnel
  • Member of the Company's Management team
  • Produce the Quality element of the company's annual Budget
  • Formulate the departmental strategy aligned to the overall Company strategy
  • Embed a Continuous Improvement culture within the Quality Dept and contribute to the Continuous Improvement programme across the site


  • HND or equivalent qualification in Engineering or a related technical field required
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Manufacturing environment
  • Ability to articulate (verbally and in writing), defend and negotiate Quality expectations with internal and external customers at all levels of management
  • Good interpersonal skills with the ability to guide and educate/train at all levels
Read more
New job
Customer Service Administrator
Sector: Customer Service
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910871
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting a well-regarded organisation at the forefront of its sector that is looking to add a Customer Service Administrator to its team, due to growth – based on the outskirts of Halstead.

The main purpose of the role is to service current and prospective customers by receiving and processing orders, enquiries and general information in a timely and courteous manner.

Key tasks include:

  • Answering incoming calls, giving product information, lead times, dealing with general enquiries and queries, redirecting calls to relevant departments
  • Raising and inputting orders and proforma invoices
  • Raising quotations
  • Amending orders, as required
  • Scanning documentation
  • Liaising with Areas Sales Managers and responding to their requests
  • Arranging couriers and/or carriers as required
  • Any general office associated duties

Key requirements for the role:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Good eye for detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Courteous

Previous experience requirements:

  • Previous Customer Service Administrative experience gained within an office environment
  • Excellent telephone manner with the ability to communicate at all levels
  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and experience of in-house systems
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise own workload
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the importance of data protection and adherence to the process

Offering free parking and an excellent working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a growing team.

Working Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week - offering a competitive salary and company benefits.

Read more
New job
Production Operative
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.91 per hour
Location: Needham Market
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 910811
About the role

Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
And have the possibility of ongoing work?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.

Duties include:

  • Ensure all final and completed products are packed to the customer specifications                               
  • Informing Line Leaders of defects found in the products
  • Keep machines supplied with packing materials and labels
  • Assist the Line Leaders with handovers and changeovers
  • Responsible for general cleanliness of the production area and removal of production and general waste
  • Check products on the line for quality and defects
  • Basic production duties carried out in a fast-paced environment

Working hours:

8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Read more
New job
Logistics Coordinator
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £24,000 per annum
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910869
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.

You will be responsible for assisting with the loads out operation of the business by ensuring that the process from collection to arrival at the final destination is fully supported by the relevant goods in haulage documentation.

You will also be supporting the sales function of the business by dealing with customer queries in terms of both sales and operations as well as assisting with various ad-hoc marketing campaigns. This is a very varied role and requires flexibility, commitment and a substantial desire to learn and grow with the flourishing business.

Duties will include:

  • Process orders and oversees the order to completion of paperwork
  • Facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to another
  • Arrange transportation with outside hauliers
  • Receive paperwork from the Weighbridge department and check and complete the paperwork within the allocated time allowed
  • Answer calls and emails relating to customer queries and log them on the CRM system and resolve any outstanding issues raised
  • Keep CRM records up-to-date
  • Work with the sales and operations team to ensure that high customer service levels are achieved and delivered to all customers you are responsible for at all times

Skills required:

  • Good Microsoft skills including Word, Outlook & Excel
  • Ability to work proactively on an independent basis as well as be a good team player
  • You will have the interpersonal skills necessary to develop and sustain effective relationships with team members of other departments and with all customers
  • Good attention to detail and analytical skills
Read more
New job
Legal Secretary (Part-Time)
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: Up to £11.00 per hour
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910868
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting an established business, based in Witham looking to add a highly-skilled secretary to their long-standing team.

The role will involve, audio typing, preparing documents, answering the phone, dealing with enquiries and assisting colleagues as well as directing queries as needed.

Key responsibilities to include:

  • Audio typing – dictation
  • Preparing letters and drafting documents
  • Handling diaries and booking appointments
  • Answering the phone and dealing with queries
  • General secretarial and office-based duties

As well as having experience in a secretarial position, you will have audio typing experience and excellent typing skills. The role requires you to have a good level of IT literacy, experience of Word (essential) and Excel would be useful. You will take pride in your work and have a caring and sympathetic nature.

Please note this role is part-time.

This is a great opportunity, offering a good pay rate and company benefits.

Read more
Accounts Assistant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £9.50 - £10.00 per hour
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910867
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Sudbury.

They are looking to add an Accounts Assistant with payroll experience to their team.

Key duties include:

  • Responsible for weekly and monthly payroll’s on Sage and all related duties (holiday forms etc.)
  • Knowledge of Xero accounts
  • Purchase Ledger
  • Sales Ledger
  • Chasing payments
  • Exporting mail-order invoices and credit notes from Magento to Xero
  • Assist Bookkeeper with any accounts duties
  • Assist Bookkeeper with HR Duties as needed
  • Reconciling Braintree payments to Mail Order invoices
  • Assist with stocktaking and valuation

Knowledge of Xero and Microsoft Office would be advantageous, although Sage experience would be considered. Attention to detail, good time management skills, accuracy, approachable and reliability is a must.

Free parking is available on site, offering a competitive hourly rate and an excellent working environment.

Read more